Ensuring data is backed up is a customer's responsibility!
The first question we typically get when a customer hears this is “What do you mean you don’t backup my data, you're the hosting company?” Customers are often shocked to learn that almost all hosting companies in the marketplace today don’t actually backup their data. While some may say they backup customer data, what they actually mean is they backup customer servers, and there is a big difference between server and data backups.
As part of our managed service plans, we maintain snapshots of your active servers; but these snapshots are not traditional data backups. A snapshot is a full copy of your entire server, as it exists at that moment in time. Snapshot’s are intended for disaster recovery scenarios where an entire server needs to be recovered. Because they are a picture of your server at that moment in time, once they are taken they immediately become outdated the second they are taken. Depending on when the your server is scheduled for snapshotting, the data can be several days old should that snapshot need to be restored. Also, since they are taken at the hypervisor-level, these backups exist fully outside of your server, and are therefore completely inaccessible to you. This is a limitation of hypervisor-level backups, and are exactly why customers need to take server, account, or site-level backups of their own data.
There are several ways to backup your data when hosting in a cloud environment with Cozaq. This article will go over the available options, and the Pro’s and Con’s of each.
WARNING: Like any other data, your backup files will consume disk space on your server. Creation of these backup files will also consume additional space beyond that used by the finished backup. This means that setting up any local backup process (on the same server) without properly considering its space requirements could result in your server running out of disk space, and consequently locking up, stopping services, or even causing loss of data! So please contact Cozaq Support if you are at all concerned about having set up your backup options properly.
Control Panel Backups
Local - Scheduled
Both Plesk and WHM offer backup utilities that allow you to backup data to the server on a scheduled rotating basis. These services are extremely flexible and simple to set up, and we recommend that all customers start here when looking for a total backup solution. It’s typically the first step in a multipart backup process that should include one time backups downloaded to your local machine.
You can determine what, where, and when the server backs up your data, and can choose how many copies of backed up data are retained on the server. Scheduled control panel backups keep your data on a drive associated with your server, and therefore is typically the fastest way to recover from an error in coding or accidental deletion of data. If you are a customer making major changes to a site or have sites that are updated regularly it is crucial that you regularly backup your data with these utilities.
- Granular, scheduled copies of your data.
- Recovery can be done at the file level.
- Quickly recover from issues.
- Automatic - set it and forget it utility.
- Notifications for when backups are successful and when they fail.
- Cost - data is stored on disk space associated with your server. You will need to expand your higher performing, more expensive, production storage drive to store your data.
- Single point of failure. While backup data is stored on multiple disk drives in a storage array, the data is controlled by the server and therefore the server itself is a single point of failure. In the event of operating system issues like ransomware, your backups can be encrypted along with the server’s operating system.
- Self Service Recovery
Local - One-Time
In both Plesk and WHM/cPanel you also have the ability to take one-time non-rotating backups. This can capture your sites and accounts at a single point in time, storing them on the server or allowing them to be downloaded to a remote location. Non-rotating control panel backups are a great way to ensure the server does not backup corrupted data before you realize there is an issue.
Let’s say you have your server set to take one weekly rotating backup on Sunday night at midnight and you get hacked on a Sunday afternoon and don’t notice until Monday morning. The server would have already copied the corrupted data by the time you realize there is an issue. We often see customers take a one-time non-rotating backup on a monthly basis to ensure there is at least one good copy of sites on the server or stored locally, no more than a month old. The pros and cons for this type of backup are the same as for a Scheduled Control Panel Backup with the additional security of having an older version of the site at all times. Both scheduled and one time backups should be used as part of a total backup and recovery strategy.
Remote - Scheduled and One-Time
The backup utility in both control panels allows you to save your backups to additional destinations. Instead of storing the backup on your server’s disk drive, you can tell the server to move the backup to another storage device on a remote host once it has been created. Data can be stored on remote services such as Amazon S3™, WebDAV, and Google Drive™ as well as downloading to a local machine.
- Remote locations remove the single point of failure issue previously discussed. (Ransomware)
- Lower data storage costs.
- Recovery can be done at the file level.
- Additional destination may increase the amount of time that the backup process requires. If the process runs too long, it may interfere with the next backup process.
- Not all destinations will force or allow secure connections and can cause security issues
- Cost associated with maintaining the additional destination.
- Additional recovery time required for data transfer from remote location.
- Self Service Recovery
As we mentioned earlier, a snapshot is a full copy of your entire server taken at a moment in time. Snapshot’s are typically intended for disaster recovery scenarios where an entire server needs to be recreated. They are a great option for recovery because restoring a server from a snapshot can be accomplished almost instantaneously. Because they are a picture of your server at the time they are taken, they immediately become outdated. However, by increasing the frequency they are taken they can be used as part of a backup and recovery solution.
Snapshot service allow you to take a full image copy of the server and record the changes made to that image every 24 hours. At the time of a snapshot a full copy of the current data is created. Each subsequent daily snapshot will store the changes that were made since the previous snapshot. Depending on the amount of space allocated, and the timing from when the last full image was recorded the system can recover multiple copies at multiple points in time.
- Recover full server images as they existed in a point in time
- Multiple server images can be recovered from multiple points in time depending on disk space allocated.
- Speed to recovery
- Full server recovery and no single file access.
- Cost associated with storage.
- Increased possibility of database corruption compared to on-server database backups.
- Snapshots and production data are stored within the same storage
Cozaq Remote Backup and Recovery Service
Cozaq offers a fully managed and monitored end-to-end backup and recovery service to our customers. For a small monthly management fee, and the cost of backup disk space, we can create and manage a customized solution for you. Our customized solutions are based off of each customer’s tolerances for down time, and all solutions are custom-tailored after meeting with a senior member of our Systems Administration team.
Customized backup and recovery service includes the following:
Setup and configuration of:
- Local scheduled backups
- Remote scheduled backups
- Local and remote one-time backups
- Snapshot service (If requested)
- Quarterly monitoring of scheduled backup processes
- Quarterly mounting of backup date to ensure its integrity
One Call Recovery:
- Cozaq plans and executes data recovery for you in the event of an issue.